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Asia Middle East Field Story History

Disenchanted With Islam: the Spiritual Impact of ISIS

"Increasingly, Iraqi and Syrian Muslims are rejecting Islam because of the cruelty and the legalism of the terrorists who claim to subscribe to the pure version of Islam."

Breaking the Myth of Islam

What is religion? Many people may think they know the answer, but in the halls of academia the term religion has several definitions. One of these definitions I subscribe to is a functional definition by the theologian Paul Tillich that religion is an ultimate concern.

I grew up during the Iraq-Iran war. The bombs falling around us made death a tangible reality to me. Death was imminent, real, and near. I was ultimately concerned with death and the solution for death resided in the faith of my childhood (Islam). Islam says that there is a life after death with reward or punishment for what you do in this life. This life became nothing but a temporary place of preparation and a test for the eternal life in heaven or hell.

I held these Islamic religious views because I inherited them from my family and my society. I accepted them as the ultimate truth, just as a child accepts by faith that Santa Claus is real and that he has this omnipresence to deliver Christmas gifts to all children everywhere in one night. As silly as this may sound to an adult, to a child who has faith in this myth it is unquestionable truth.

The Bible, the best spell breaker, disenchanted me with Islam. Being disenchanted from a myth can lead to two actions: rejecting the myth or accepting the myth as a beneficial tradition that you know is not true but like to keep (like the case of Santa Claus). Rejecting does not mean one is adopting a new belief. In my case, rejecting Islam did not lead to an automatic conversion to Christ; it was a process to break free from the myth that imprisoned my mind. You could read how this happened to me by clicking here.

For me, conversion was accepting new beliefs as truth after rejecting the old ones. I was awakened to the truth, until my soul yearned and earnestly sought God in the darkness of the night of that spiritual affliction.

Spiritual Effects of Terrorism

The affliction which has awakened Muslims and continues to awake them these days is terrorism performed in the name of Islam.

Until recently, most “peaceful” Muslims rejected the terror of the militants and said that these terrorists are a small group of misled Muslims who do not understand the true teachings of Islam.

Then, Muslims themselves became the target of terrorism. The rise of extremist militant groups, like ISIS, took over Muslims territories and embossed on them their strict version of Islam. Increasingly, Iraqi and Syrian Muslims are rejecting Islam because of the cruelty and the legalism of the terrorists who claim to subscribe to the pure version of Islam.

I met several of these rejectionists in Turkey; many of them are from the city of Raqqa in Syria, the declared caliphate capital of ISIS. They told me how they are no longer could believe in Islam because they saw first-hand the fruit of strictly following it. As Jesus’s warned against false prophets: “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:16

Most of these rejectionist Muslims are not yet converts to Christ. They are tired of religion. Currently, they are ultimately concerned with the well-being of this life.

Many of these Muslims admire Jesus. To them He is a man of peace, who instructed his followers to turn the other cheek. Jesus is a moral man who never sought to establish an earthly kingdom, like Muhammad did. Some Muslims even accept that Jesus died on the cross, that He was obedient to the point of death. Still, they do not yet know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Those refugees who fled ISIS territories are the most ready to accept Christ. The deep grip of Islam is broken they are mostly without faith. In a way, they still believe in God. They are not agnostic or atheists but mostly deists who are longing for a faith to embrace to fill the void left by Islam.

Now is the time for us to bring Muslims the good news of Christ. Christ is the only one big enough to fill that void in their hearts and minds.

*This story was originally posted July 13, 2015, on Challies.com.

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